Reality Check Coverage: Filene’s Tansley Stearns Asks CUs ‘What If’

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – Remember the question “if a tree falls in the woods, and no one was there to hear it, does it make a sound?” Filene’s Chief Impact Officer Tansley Stearns presented this question to credit unions in a different way at Reality Check on Tuesday: if your credit union disappeared, would someone notice if you were gone?

Filene’s Tansley Stearns drives home lessons on being relevant with your members and your community.

The question isn’t challenging whether or not a credit union serves its members, it challenges whether or not a credit union is relevant to its members and to its community. Stearns urged the credit union leaders in the room to put themselves in their members’ shoes. Filene research showed that credit unions have little understanding of their impact priorities as compared to the needs of the community and members. They also lack quality-of-life or life-cycle anticipation framework that can help with life events or crises.

Stearns then posed thought-provoking and challenging questions to the audience: What if you measure your impact? What if you track the savings achieved through membership? What if you set sustainability goals or metrics for benchmarking your impact?

What if we aggregate savings versus regional bank rates, given loan types and FICO credit scores? What if we have savings available in buying major items (homes and vehicles) and regular household items like cable, Internet and telephone, clean energy, locally sourced food, or other services as a group through the credit union’s cooperative purchasing programs?

View more Reality Check photos here.